Sleep tips for Christmas Eve is something every parent will be Googling this month, especially as Christmas this year will be like no other we’ve experienced before. With restrictions and limited numbers – and the regulations changing almost daily, we’ve all had to learn to live by the famous British mantra of keeping calm and carrying on.
However, a few people who are sure NOT to keep calm over the Christmas season are the kids in your life! Despite the drama going on around them, it’s so important that we all make Christmas just as special as it always is. But, in doing so manage that excitement so they, and you, get a good night’s sleep!
We’ve called on the advice of two experts to share their top tips on how to encourage your children to get a good night’s sleep on Christmas Eve – Lucy Shrimpton, Sleep Expert and Founder of The Sleep Nanny and Dr Preethi Daniel from London Doctors Clinic.
Lucy says: “You might want to let your little one stay up later with you on Christmas Eve, and they will want to as well, but this will only cause over-tiredness for the big day. When a child is over-tired, this usually means they won’t be able to sleep properly during the night or might wake up earlier than normal so ty to be balanced.”
Wake them up early on Christmas Eve
Preethi says: “Wake children up early on Christmas Eve. Fill it with activities to fill their mind and tire out little arms and legs. If allowed, go for a walk, play in the playground, spend time with other children where they can tire each other out. There is research to suggest every inactive hour adds three minutes extra to get them to the land of Nod… that’s an extra three minutes that you could be spending wrapping those last-minute presents!”
Limit sugary foods
Lucy says: “It’s so easy for children to be tempted by delicious chocolate treats – and for parents to let them eat as much as they like, since it’s Christmas. However, it’s important that you limit, especially close to bedtime as that sugar can cause an adrenaline rush just as they’re meant to be calming down for bedtime.”
Make sure they know when bedtime is
Preethi says: “Giving your child notice about when their bedtime is, particularly on Christmas Eve, will help them know when it’s time to begin to wind down. And the more notice that you give them, the more they will be aware that there is no negotiation.”
Stick to your routine
Lucy says: “If you’re staying with family or friends this Christmas, do your best to stick to your normal routine of bedtime hours. Nap when they usually nap and have the same sleep cues you normally have at home so they know when bedtime’s coming.”
Preethi adds: “It can be so hard when everyone is unbelievably excited but the best way to get your child to sleep is not to waiver from your usual routine. It’s important to inform them of the plan for the day – so for Christmas Eve, it could be: breakfast, movie, baking, food, playtime, movie and bedtime! Consistency is key.”
Know the signs
Preethi says: “Pounce on signs of tiredness and sleepiness. This is your opportunity to get them to the bedroom, start their wind down and get them settled in.”
Avoid screen time close to bed
Lucy says: “Everyone loves a Christmas movie, especially when you’re all sat around watching together as a family. But, try your best to end the move at least an hour before they’re due to go to bed. Once the movie has ended and they’re all ready for bed, read them a Christmas bedtime story instead.”
Stick to YOUR rules
Lucy says: “If your family has a set time when you can start the day, stick to it. Just because it’s Christmas, it doesn’t mean they can start waking up at 5am and if you allow them to for a few days, this will only cause confusion and potential disobedience, particularly in younger children who don’t understand your logic. If you don’t stick to your rules, your child will not take them seriously for the rest of the time so, as hard as it might be, try to stick to your rules and routine – you’ll thank me when New Year is here!”
Consider an earlier bedtime
Preethi says: “If you’re really concerned about how long it might take for them to fall asleep on Christmas Eve, consider introducing an earlier bedtime. However, be prepared for them to wake up even earlier on Christmas Day!”
Article by Dr. Preethi Daniel, Medical Director at London Doctors Clinic and Lucy Shrimpton, The Sleep Nanny®. Check out Lucy’s brand new online sleep programme called Dream Maker, aimed at new parents struggling to help their children sleep through the night.